COLUMBUS, Ohio — Construction literally paving the way for a replacement terminal at John Glenn Columbus International Airport is among recipients of the first Congressional earmarks after a decade-long ban.

The Columbus Regional Airport Authority is seeking bids for the first phase of construction to relocate a 4,500-foot taxiway to enable construction of a new passenger terminal and ensure safer aircraft movement to and from the facility.

Construction of the $25 million project is expected to start next spring and take just over three years, an airport spokeswoman said.

A $2.25 million Community Project Funding grant – that's the official term for earmarks – that Ohio's U.S. Sen Sherrod Brown added to this spring's bipartisan federal appropriations bill is supporting the taxiway project.

The portion out for bid now is expected to cost north of $9 million for demolition, paving and infrastructure. Proposals are due in mid-June.

The authority last month selected the design team for the 35-40 gate terminal that would replace an outdated 1958 structure. Design and construction are expected to take six years and costs are likely to exceed $1 billion.

U.S. representatives and senators request direct appropriations to infrastructure and initiatives in their districts, in contrast to the usual competitive bid process for federal agency
funding. Congress revived the practice last year after a 10-year ban.

"We need to use every tool available to get resources to Ohio, and that’s what we did with these local priorities," Brown, a Democrat, said in a recent news release. "The best ideas don’t come out of Washington – they come from Ohioans who know better than anyone what their communities need."

Brown also earmarked $1.275 million toward construction and staff for Columbus College of Art & Design's new workforce development center with training programs in design thinking and creative problem solving. The 8,500-square-foot space in its Design Studios on Broad will serve as a "front door" better connecting the school to downtown, officials said.

U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, a Cincinnati Republican not seeking reelection, urged continuing the earmark ban and did not submit requests.

Other Brown earmarks for Central Ohio this fiscal year, some secured jointly with Columbus' U.S. Rep. Joyce Beatty, include:

  • Choices for Victims of Domestic Violence: $750,000 for expanded services at Franklin County's only domestic violence shelter, which has seen increased demand in the pandemic after a 2019 expansion.
  • Franklin County Mental Health and Addiction Crisis Center: $500,000 toward construction.
  • Franklin County programs for youth experiencing homelessness: $760,000 for housing, behavioral health services and job training by the nonprofits Star House, Huckleberry House, and Kaleidoscope Youth Center.
  • Community Development for All People's South End Café: $250,000 toward the nonprofit's social enterprise on the south side of Columbus that will provide job training as well as affordable nutritious food.